What Next???

Morgan: I — uuhhh – I’m over-thinking this, aren’t I?
Chuck: Yeah. Yeah, you are. Go with your heart, buddy. Our brains only screw things up.

There’s less than two weeks left before the season premier of Chuck and I can’t deny that I’m excited about it. Maybe a little too much.

It is real, Chuck.

Well, don’t be too surprised by that. Here’s the deal: The summer Chuck marathon is coming to a glorious conclusion! It was timed to the release of the S3 DVDs and the start of the season, which means some days it took watching two or even three episodes to keep on schedule. At the same time I’ve been taking notes, recording the names of guest stars and the correct spelling of their character’s names, recording B and C plots, the music and scenes to which the music attaches, and dialog. Lots and lots of dialog.

It takes quite a bit more than 43 min 22 sec. to go through an episode that way, and I don’t recommend it, really, ’cause It’s enough to drive a spouse carraa-zy (No, no, dear. I am NOT having an on-line affair with someone named Beckman…). Worse, when I get to take a breather (like I can this week) I experience Chuck withdrawal symptoms. Very strange for a man my age.

I know. Take three songs from each season and see a doctor in the morning. Will do!

Needless to say, things are a bit like the original beginning sequence of the Chuck vs. the Podcast. “It’s downloaded into my brain, and I am in a constant state of fear and anxiety.”

Not really. But let me make an admission. I do wonder if I’ve set my expectations too high for S4, or too low for that matter. It sounds self-contradictory, I know. Listening to the play-lists on my iPOD, I ask myself “(Self?) Am I too giddy, or too jaded about the upcoming season?” I wonder what’s going to happen and if I’m going to be thrilled or disappointed. Why shouldn’t I be thrilled? The answer is, I have no idea what’s going to make me happy. I really don’t have a preference for any given direction that the show might take; they all sound great! There’s an entire compass full of directions in the offering.

We had a fantastic cliff-hanger/lead-in to S4. There’s the new Orion-cave and Mama B., Chuck and Sarah are together and Casey gets to make sure Morgan keeps his hands off of Alex (Good luck with that one, Casey). The story choices seem endless and pregnant with possibilities. And speaking of pregnancies…

Yes, yes, I want to see all of that. I want to see Morgan and Alex fighting off Casey, I want to see Chuck and Sarah fighting off bad guys, I want to see Casey fighting off everybody! I want to see Devon and Ellie planning for the future starting NOW! and more than anything, I want to see Chuck and Sarah starting that future they envisioned together.

So what’s to worry? I worry I’m writing their story again!

I really do over-think this stuff just like Morgan. It’s easy enough. I do have certain expectations, and read enough spoilage to have a sense that my preconceived notions are probably wrong. That’s as it should be. Surprises are a good thing; this is why I try to avoid spoilers, even if I fail in the attempt.

“So now, they weren’t just fans; they were participants.”

Zac Levi said that in a recent interview. He was talking about more than just the Subway campaign, I think. He was talking about fan interactions in general. It’s a unique experience, feeling like the star of a show has actually heard our words, isn’t it? The writers actually put them, our words, in the actor’s mouths on occasion. TPTB certainly reacted to our reactions to certain events that shall remain *cough*NAMEless*cough*. It almost seems that Zac never misses an opportunity to thank the fans for their involvement, and lately, neither has Josh Gomez and Adam Baldwin. Even the comparatively taciturn Yvonne Strahovski has been doing that. These are professional actors, as practiced in the art of deception as CIA agents (!!!), but I believe them. It’s possible to think otherwise, but I come away thinking the fans have had a say in the show.

Not every show has gone the way fans would have it. Leonard and Penny still aren’t together after their break-up (oops!), Booth and Brennen have been separated for a year (in the Bones story-line) and Tony and Ziva are still acting brother-and-sisterly – Gibb’s rule #12 is in full force. At least House and Cuddy have gotten together (after 6 full seasons, with fans tapping their foot in frustration all the while).

Alan Sepinwall wrote yesterday about his reaction to the new show Nikita, and it struck a chord. Just look at what he said at the end:

I’m just feeling burnt-out on this kind of show – not just “Nikita” remakes themselves, but dark and brooding spy series with complex mythologies and constant double-crosses – and it would take an extraordinary level of execution to make me care again, in the same way that Dan was sucked in by “The Shield” once he finally agreed to watch it. (That, or a twist on the familiar, like the comedy of “Chuck.”) And “Nikita” is good, but it’s not transcendent – a B when I would need an A or A+ to care again.

Transcendent? That’s a pretty high bar, and I’ve come to expect that much. It’s not because of one critic’s review; I don’t think I’m going to be making time for Nikita or even J.J. Abrams’ Undercovers for exactly those reasons. It’s a little hard for me to feel like I’m ever going to be so involved. By way of comparison, the cast and crew of Chuck have succeeded in making me feel much more involved. Like Zac said, we’re participants, and the whole experience does seem, at times, transcendent.

It's still real.

We all, you and I, write about what we’d like to see out of enjoyment and love for the show. We just want to see Good Things ™ happening, right?  We’re not “entitled”, but fans who have invested so much should not feel ignored either. That’s how many shows die, after all.  They lose contact with their audience. The amazing thing is, we actually have a bit of say in what’s going on with the show, much more than I’ve ever seen before. We are participating to the extent that the give and take we’ve experienced on Twitter and ComicCon, on podcasts, meet-ups and interviews with the cast and crew starts to feel “interactive.”

It may not be “Television 2.0” yet, but the real thing, when it comes, is going to feel much like this. Now close your eyes. Imagine Sarah in a blue dress looking at you and saying “It is real.” There’s a love affair going on here, sometimes they’re clumsy and dumb about it, sometimes mistrusting and tentative and there’s been rocky moments. But it’s real and the participants are together for the long-haul. It’s time to go with your heart.

– joe

About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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58 Responses to Participation

  1. OldDarth says:

    Nikita pilot was very good. Enough for me to give the show a couple of episodes of viewing.

    I have no interest in UnderCovers.

    • joe says:

      I may not watch them, but I’m sort of rooting for their success anyway. Abrams has given us a lot of good TV, and Undercovers does seem like a bit of fun. Can’t have too much of that on the air!

      • atcdave says:

        I think I just decided against Undercovers today. I reserve the right to change my mind; but, the brief summary I saw today said “unlike Mr and Mrs Smith they’re on the same side, for now.” Those last two words ended it for me. I’m not interested in the whole questionable loyalties thing, certainly not for a husband and wife. If it later seems this was one poorly worded summary, or even a short term story element that isn’t really a major theme; I might change my mind. But I’m not really looking for many new shows right now (I didn’t loose any favorites last year, that may be a first) so this just made my life a little easier.

      • joe says:

        Whoa! I hadn’t seen that, Dave.

        Is it me, or is it a general phenomenon that the audiences want to see solid couples on TV much more than they’re getting these days?

        I’m almost ready to say that the Moonlighting Effect is dead.

      • hgs says:

        I’m not particularly found of the Moonlighting effect, but different people like things as apparent by this comment:

      • atcdave says:

        My guess Joe, is its always what people have wanted to see. But with more indirect feedback mechanisms of the past it was harder to sort out what viewers found exciting versus tiresome. I know Ernie’s talked at length (and no, this isn’t Ernie in disguise!) about the erroneous conclusions drawn from Moonlighting. I would say among those flawed conclusions would be that people like a long term wt/wt; that people like watching a marriage fall apart; and that anyone likes watching friends/lovers betray each other. Okay, I know there actually is a market for those things; but I think most of us like it far less than professional writers are taught to think we do.

        In addition, the conventional wisdom used to be that when times are tough people want lighter entertainment. For some reason, in the current economic climate, professional entertainers seem to have lost sight of that.

        Now it still may have been a poorly worded summary. I will continue to pay attention to comments I see and I could start watching if that little threat is just an unsanctioned stray comment.

      • atcdave says:

        hgs, that was an interesting discussion over at the forums. I can agree some that even the later part of S3 was not handled as well as it could have been; but clearly I don’t relate to thinking Chuck and Sarah are boring together. I think Honeymooners was the clear best episode of S3. I know I’ve said before; my ideal scenario is Chuck and Sarah against the world. I want to see them as a team and a couple. I do think they missed a wonderful opportunity by skipping the “secret relationship” angle; and many things could have been done better, but overall I’m happy with how the season ended.

      • joe says:

        Yes – interesting discussion there, hgs.

        There will always be fans who are involved for their own reasons. And I’m pretty sure that, as a group, the fan-fic writers are scratching an itch not reached by the show’s writers.

      • atcdave says:

        I’d also add about fan fiction; its often far more complex and sophisticated than the show can ever be. That related directly to different strengths of a different medium. Written fiction excels at exploring motivations, individual thought processes, and complex plots and schemes. Television, especially the one hour episodic sort, is not so deep. Its more viscerally exciting. So I think some of the ff writers may be getting full of themselves trying to claim a superiority derived from the different strengths of their own medium. It would be like claiming an iPod is better than a pocket knife because it keeps better time. Too much apples and oranges.

      • hgs says:

        I agree, everything wasn’t perfect, but I was happy with it. Honeymooners is one of my favorite episodes (not only because of C/S or the action/plot but also that Yvonne finally could take part of the comedy part of the show). The “hidden relationship” was a lost opportunity, we got a little of it in Other Guy, but not nearly enough.

        My point was only that something one may feel strongly about, others feel completely different. How people react to things is difficult to predict exactly because people have different taste.

        How ratings developed after C/S got together may be used as to prove the Moonlighting effect. Though I wouldn’t agree with that conclusion.

      • atcdave says:

        I know hgs. I’m a little worried about the rating situation. The way I see it, the bleeding stopped after C/S got together. But there was no rally. My best guess is that fans were pretty POed and the change wasn’t well advertised (my wife called it a betrayal). If ratings don’t improve another generation of writers will be taught that putting the lead couple together is the end of the story. We have strong reason to suspect that is incorrect (I still believe drawing it out a beat too long was their undoing). But a rebound in ratings is the ONLY proof that will ultimately matter.

      • Frea O says:

        I think the words “Moonlighting Effect” are slowly but surely becoming taboo on the internet. I love listening to the people at TWoP debate about it because they throw out all of these shows I’ve never heard of, and it’s an education in itself. Plus, it’s really fun to listen to them go back and forth about what actually killed the show.

        (I will point out that the same person who made that long and impassioned argument on also went on to say “Hurting your characters is fun, and provides interest as a reader and a writer. Who wants to see people be happy?” which made me facepalm a little, so I definitely agree about the diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks approach cos every time I hurt my characters, yes, there might be evil cackling, but I really do empathize. On some level. Very deep down)

        I agree that fanfiction and the show definitely display different strengths, but I really hope people don’t actually think that fanfiction writers are outright saying we’re better than the show because we can take the time to explore nuance in the way the show doesn’t have time to do. The show is what brought us together, and we all have stuff we love about it. I see fanfiction as a supplement since as Dave pointed out, the television medium is very limiting. And I have pointed out many times that I can do some of the things in my story that people may claim is better than canon because I don’t have a budget and a few hundred people involved in making it work for the small screen (taking it personally, me? Never! :))

        I can’t speak for others, but for me, I’ve expressed dissatisfaction with how Season Three was written. Loudly, many times, on various forums. But my dissatisfaction is rooted in the fact that these are professional writers who have given us the brilliance of S1 and S2, so I know they can be completely awesome, and in S3, they ignored what I feel were several basic rules of writing (including the ever-important show vs. tell) and that I was disappointed with that. We’ve never claimed fanfiction was better on any level, and I really hope people don’t think we’re being holier-than-thou. I’d have the same opinions if I was just a regular viewer, and not a fanfiction writer.

        It’s a bit entitled of me to say that I was unhappy with the writing when I’m not out there writing a TV show myself, sure. But then, it’s also entitled of me to say I didn’t like a book because the main character didn’t appeal to me, or I didn’t enjoy a movie because the music selection was terrible. We all have opinions. I’m not saying the writers should listen to me because I’m better than them (I’m really not), I’m just expressing my sadness and disgust that they can be so awesome and full of win, and they’re not being so. S3 took two of my favorite characters and made them completely unlikeable, and that made me sad.

        Again, I can’t speak for all fanfiction writers since we’re a very varied lot, and I’m not even saying you were aiming your comments at me, but I felt the need to kind of step in and say all of this. Sorry if I’ve stepped on any toes. Fanfiction writers can be a rowdy and sarcastic bunch but I hope we’re not coming across like a bunch of stuffed shirts. Deep down, we love the show just as much as everybody here at CT. Some of us just weren’t hugged enough as kids.

      • hgs says:

        Frea let me first say that I love your writing, and that my comment wasn’t directed at or any of the writers there. I was also less than impressed with the writing/execution at times last season.

        The only reason that I linked to that comment, was that it clearly showed that everyone may not agree that the moonlighting effect is dead.

      • Frea O says:

        Sorry, should’ve said I was replying to Dave, hgs. Thank you for the compliment, and I definitely do see what you mean about the differing opinions on the moonlighting effect. (I will say that that argument on was a lot of fun to watch unfold. Lots of different opinions flying around, weren’t there? I’m glad it never came close to fisticuffs). 🙂

      • JC says:

        If nothing else Frea I wish someone would send Fedak your story to show him how to write Sarah as a fully developed character. If she was written like that on the show, Buffy would be dethroned as the queen of TV female bad asses.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well Dave went and done it, now I have to explain the Moonlighting Scenario again. The REAL Moonlighting Scenario is alive and well, and was played out on Chuck almost perfectly this last season. First some background. Moonlighting suffered production problems from the start. There was so much more dialog than a normal show and the quick back and forth took so much more rehersal and shooting time that once into a season, quite often an episode wouldn’t be ready on time. As a fan of the show at the time it was frustrating never knowing whether you’d be getting a new show or a repeat essentially till you tuned in. That was the biggest problem Moonlighting suffered from and lead to a ratings decline. That though isn’t a lesson anyone took from the show’s demise.

        Now, the supposed lesson of Moonlighting was that everyone tuned in for the WT/WT and the witty banter between the two charismatic leads. That much is true, but the idea that the show’s ratings dropped once the pair got together leading to the demise of the show is pure bunk. The ratings did peak in season 3, but were dropping already when at the season’s end they put the couple together. At the very start of season 4 they not only broke them up, but sent Maddie to Chicago, where she spent the bulk of the season sharing no screen time with Bruce Willis. So yeah, the problem was that they got together… For a show that built it’s audience on the incindiary onscreen chemistry of it’s two leads having an entire season where they were apart, physically, not interacting at all, was the real killer. They were still playing the WT/WT the whole time with the two leads apart, so to say the show suffered from the end of the WT/WT is just plain bunk. When they finally decided to let the two leads be together for some reason they felt compelled to have Maddie mary a guy, just to keep some obstacle between them.

        The real lesson? They dragged out the WT/WT as long as they plausibly could, gave the couple a brief moment of coupledom, immediately pulled them apart and kept them apart for much of the next season making sure they share little screen time and hardly interact, then when they do start to spend time together make sure the woman is involved with a third party who makes no sense other than as an obstacle to the couple being together. Putting them together was not the problem. Manufacturing increasingly strained and contrived ways of keeping them apart was.

        Now as for what some people like and making your characters suffer I want to first touch on what I think is a fundamental part of the traditional WT/WT, and this comes right out of Moonlighting. Both members of the couple are kind of jerks. They get what they deserve. The banter and the back and forth all served to highlight one thing, they both viewed a potential romance as a continuation of their battle for dominance as partners. Each was looking to “win” so neither would give in. The only thing in their way was their own pride. You can invest in the fun of watching the battle since you really don’t feel too much empathy for either. The fun is in watching them each cut each other down to size because they both deserve it.

        Chuck and Sarah didn’t deserve it. They earned it. With Chuck and Sarah, very early on, it wasn’t a matter of pride, it was a matter of an impossible situation keeping them apart. The way each sacrificed for the other and the way they were there for each other no matter what made us root for them both to get what they wanted and deserved. While they were in the impossible situation the big CRM (Central Relationship Misunderstanding), them not talking, made some sense. It was too painful, and it could get Sarah re-assigned. Once that barrier was removed however the ways to keep them apart seemed increasingly strained and self inflicted.

        I suppose you could say Sarah deserved to get her heart broken for never taking a risk or opening up, or that Chuck deserved to lose Sarah for never having enough confidence in himself to believe he was worthy of her, but it didn’t play that way on the screen. Neither was enough of a jerk to deserve it. Until about mid season 3.

        This brings me to my next point, hurting your characters for the fun of it. I understand what the writer is talking about, but I think he’s misplaced the fun aspect. Unless you’re a sadist the fun and the empathy come from watching your character overcome the adversity that keeps getting thrown at them. If it was really fun and interesting to hurt the characters Chuck would have been bunkered and the show would be about all the whacky hijinks that ensue as Chuck is run through a series of experiments by government scientists as Sarah looks on.

        Cruelty for cruelty sake doesn’t work for me. And that brings me to Frea’s comment. She does beat the everloving cr*p out of Chuck, but Chuck is hanging in there, sometimes by a thread, but he’s trying. So we, like Sarah, root for him. That is why the adversity works.

      • jason says:

        another long thread – love it – the notion CS ‘earned’ love vs other wt/wt is pretty accurate for me personally. I often had said, I really could care less about beckett and castle for example, but beckett has done little other than go to work and be hot, castle even less, s1/s2 Cs put themselves on the line for one another, many times. The writers in season 3 treated CS like just another wt/wt, they deserved better.

      • joe says:

        Wow! Once again, great comments, all.

        Let me ask this, though; about the timing. I haven’t made a study of it, but my perception is that C&S have actually gotten together quickly, relative to other shows. Assuming that we don’t get contrivances of a particularly stupid sort to keep them apart (something I don’t see happening), TPTB may even be guilty of putting them together too soon, in the sense that they had to think much further ahead much sooner than they anticipated. Some of the fan-fics show the desire we all have to move the story forward ever faster.

        Are we being impatient? From the POV of the show’s talent, that would be a desired effect, up to a point.

      • Frea O says:

        Joe, I don’t think we’re being impatient at all. People make the claim that the writers were bullied by these militant Charah shippers (of which I am one, I think, whoops), that these shippers forced Chuck and Sarah together far too soon, but I never saw it that way. I think I put it once that the writers, yes, WERE bullied, but it was their own writing in the build-up of the relationship, the ridiculous amount of chemistry between the leads, and their own natural organic storyline. Basically, they wrote themselves into a corner, as far as I see it, and the only way to push the relationship back and to make it coincide completely with the so-called “hero’s journey” was to push the reset button, which I think worked really well.

        In an alternate universe. 🙂 Maybe it can say hi to Olivia for me. She’s a redhead now.

        TV shows automatically shy away from putting the lead couples together happily because that’s often viewed as the prize at the end of the rope or whatever. The consolation prize for making it to the end. Wasn’t it “Once More With Feeling” that put it as “The curtains close on a kiss, God knows?” It’s part superstition, I think, part unwillingness to be backed into said corner. This makes me really sad because one of my all-time favorite movies now is “The Thin Man.” Nick and Nora Charles were just so much fun, and I really think Chuck and Sarah have so much potential for this kind of relationship. Two insanely talented actors who can do it all: comedy, drama, romance, etc. Which makes Prague really heartbreaking to me because the writing frustrates me so much I can’t watch that scene but damn, Miss Strahovski and Mr. Levi did some of their finest work then. But I got off track there for a minute. Compared to other shows that made us wait/are still making us wait (lookin’ at you, NCIS), it might seem soon, but every show is unique, and I really do think Chuck and Sarah are just too strong a force to ignore.

        Also, JC, as a Buffy fangirl, I’m not sure I want to see her dethroned. But thank you for the compliment, and Ernie, you’re right. I do beat the shipoopi out of my characters. Just wait til you see what I’ve got planned for Chapter 40. 🙂 …wait, that wasn’t the point? Oh, right, cheering for them to hang on, that was the point. Yeah, that’s fun. Let’s all do that. I’m also sending everybody to your explanation of the Moonlighting Curse being pretty much something you can’t boil down to the lowest common denominator cos it’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen.

      • JC says:

        It’s the truth Frea. I come off as a Sarah hater but all I want is more from the character. She has the qualities to be the next Buffy but they waste the potential. Fates showed a strong, sexy and vulnerable Sarah that has actual dialogue. Not the walking plot device she was reduced to in S3. It was actually frustrating seeing what you did with her compared to the show.

      • joe says:

        Ah, you make it hard to argue, Frea. Well stated. Indeed, when I talk about “fan” impatience, I’m usually talking about my own. Want to see C&S together desperately after Marlin? Guilty! Thought they *were* after Colonel? You bet. Frustrated by The Mask and Fake Name? Terribly. Glad they finally got together the way they did? I’m only speaking for myself now, but, yes.

        Ooohhh – before I forget, Frea, I want to thank you for the link on Castle Inanity. It’s appreciated.

      • atcdave says:

        Wow, I sleep in this morning and look what I missed! And to think this all started about “Undercovers”!

        Thank you Ernie and Frea for excellent posts and explanations. Frea, I never meant to imply all Fan Fiction writers are big on themselves, but the post in question did sort of strike me that way. The fact we are all so passionate about Chuck is testimony to the quality and richness of the source material. Long form written fiction certainly has different strengths, that the best writers take full advantage of. (perhaps its time for another of my fan fiction posts!) I would say the writer who triggered much of this discussion has a radical view about inflicting pain on main characters that I believe (and hope!) is very much a minority view. I want to see likable and deserving main characters get the good things they have coming to them. Of course I understand an action story requires an ongoing series of challenges to drive the story; but there needs to be rewards for both characters and audience along the way or it becomes simply exhausting (not to mention contrived).

        Frea used the dirty word entitled. In this day and age that word has A LOT of baggage. To most of us its about expecting and demanding something we don’t actually deserve, as if we did. But the thing is, TV is a business AND an artform. For the business to be successful, the audience must be entertained. So when we say we don’t want something or didn’t enjoy something, it should be taken seriously. Obviously it can be a fine line between letting the writers tell their story and keeping a demanding audience entertained; but that is the business. We, the vocal minority, should be considered a resource by TPTB as feedback and opinion. Any reading of forums and blogs from 4/2009 on would have revealed the whole reset/triangles arc of S3 was a dreadful mistake. Easily 90% of the fans writing when Colonel first aired were deliriously happy with what had happened. Even though the seeds of the reset were planted in Ring, we didn’t really see what it meant until 7/2009. Initially 80-90% of comments were negative and hostile about those Comic-Con comments. Many of those fans were later won over to the belief that the writers did know what they doing and the new season would be fine; but when the story was poorly handled things went nuts.

        I’m rehashing a lot of old stuff here, sorry about that, but I want to make the point that it is the job of TPTB to recognize the reality of what’s on screen AND the mood of their audience to avoid such mistakes. Frea mentioned The Thin Man; it is still the archetype for how a happy couple can be central to an exciting mystery/adventure themed story. Even if it isn’t quite what the writers had in mind from the start; by the end of S2 it was clear a MAJORITY of Chuck fans wanted that sort of story. With what we’re seeing now, I would say it only meant accelerating their story outline by half a season. Instead they delivered half a season that cost 2 million viewers. oops.

        So I guess the next issue is pacing. I would agree with Frea’s comments that it varies highly with the source material. Jason brings up Castle, which is much like Chuck in mood. But the pacing is different, the characters are different. We just don’t feel the same urgency to getting the leads together. Tony and Ziva on NCIS have a very slow dance going. Not more than a couple episodes a season even allude to them as a possible couple. I think most viewers are fine with that. But Chuck fans care deeply about Charah; I think for many reasons. We like and relate to Chuck; we like and respect Sarah; they sacrifice so much for each other; and we know they want each other very much. The delays simply become torturous; which sums up 3.01-3.12. And most of us don’t like torture.

        After a comment of that length, everyone really will be thinking Ernie and I are one and the same!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Frea, thanks for the compliment. It’s about my fifth or sixth time explaining the Moonlighting thing, so I guess practice helps. 😉 And thanks for dropping by, though I’m always tempted to ask the obvious question, who let you out of the sealed room where you’re supposed to be writing Fates 24/7? Just kidding, I liked your last two missing moments pieces too, so it’s OK.

        I also wanted to add that you’ve hit on something I was writing about in a post in preparation addressing BMA’s complaints about the plot and transition from S2 to S3. They’d written themselves into a corner is the perfect way to put it, so I may borrow that phrase for my piece. Oh, and I plan to point people to part 2 of the interview you did with OD about rules of writing. I enjoyed that.

        And as usual everyone should check out Frea and the other’s blog Castle Inanity. And now there’s a new reason to check them out, their really cool Yvonne-centric design. (Is that a permanent feature now Frea?) It’s also in our Blogroll on the right side of the page.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Nah Dave, everyone can tell the difference. You aren’t nearly as good at p*ssing people off as me. 😉

      • JC says:


        Quick question, in your upcoming post do you touch upon the continuity issues that plagued S3?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JC, I plan on dealing with some of them, but I do want to make a distinction. What you (and I) are probably talking about are plot inconsistencies, kind of a subset of continuity. Continuity usually refers to other things in a TV show. A good for-instance would be at the end of Santa Clause when Sarah shoots Mauser there are several frames of Sarah holding the gun that don’t agree. I’ve heard the argument that they were attempting to show it from reality then Chuck’s view or something like that, but it comes off like poor editing to me.

        Anyway, there are a few I want to touch on, but feel free to bring it up in comments if you have one in particular in mind. I’m going to try to get it posted tonight.

      • Frea O says:

        Ernie, borrow away. 🙂

        Also, Dave, I went through and reread that fan argument after I made that nice and long impassioned post, and there WERE some writers making the claim that they pay more attention/do better than the show writers, and it made me facepalm so I guess I was a little wrong in my defense. I won’t name names, but now I’m a little bothered by that attitude because for all of my whining, I do love the show, and I do have a lot of respect for the writers, even if they’ve burned all of their truck with me and have to now earn my loyalty and love again. And you’re very, very right about that–entitled is such a dirty word. I deal with it a lot when writing Fates because Fates is something I do for free without any repayment save reviews and I try not to mind it so much because it means people are digging the story, but the show is something paid for by advertisers and I pay my satellite bill monthly, purchase the DVDs, and hell, I bought Subway sandwiches, so I felt I had a right to say, “This show you promised me would be like this for two years sucks now, guys! What the fractal?” Yup. Entitlement at its finest. So I completely agree with everything you said–should we have input? We shouldn’t need it, the writers should understand enough to keep their promises. Which, by now, after being burned by S3, they may be doing. Too little too late with the ratings bleed? Unfortunately.

        And with the length of your comment, Dave, I now have a new addition to add to my “Which one wears the evil mustache? Ernie or Dave?” post. 🙂

        Ernie and Joe, thank you both for the shout-outs. The insane cabal over at CI loves ChuckThis because you guys love us (seriously, when Maximus and I saw the link, one of us squealed like a girl). And Ernie, borrow away. You might like the third part of the interview I’m posting tonight (as soon as I check the audio of the file I edited; Lou was brilliant, but I say “um” a lot) because it talks about quality of writing as it applies to fanfiction, but I take a few more pot-shots at the writers. The Yvonne-centric theme will be staying over at CI until the Premiere, when we add a few more characters into the wallpaper, assuming I let Crystal free from writing Kill Bryce long enough.

        Oh, and because I did escape my sealed room where I pen What Fates Impose: Frea’s Personal B**chslap, here’s a taste of next chapter (Maximus HATES when I do this, but I’m out of Dr. Pepper, so chaos must be had) —

        “Yeah,” Chuck said. “I don’t know if sage advice helps. There is always that little voice in my head that says, ‘Hey, dude, Sarah said she likes you, and have you seen how awesome, and, oh yeah, how hot she is?’ There’s always that voice.”

        “You hear these voices often?”

        “Oh, sure, I’m probably crazy.”

        “Seem perfectly sane to me.”

        “So you’re saying I shouldn’t listen to the voice?”

        “Well, the voice isn’t exactly telling you to stab somebody in a motel shower, so what’s the harm?”

        What what? Sarah advice? Sarah advice the readers might like? Back to Fates! Looking forward to your post, Ernie! Want to borrow my graphic with the red no-smoking sign over Prague? 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks for the preview Frea, I’m sure you know many of us here get excited about every new chapter you post. Which leads to your interesting issue with criticism of fan fiction. I know I’ve commented here before, I only recommend and review the works I like; I will never slam a work I don’t like. For one, there is so much material out there, it is much easier to just ignore the stuff I don’t care for. And for two, fan fiction is more of a pure art-form. That is, its created out of a love of the subject and/or genre; it is not for profit or hire. The amateur writer has no obligation to please anyone but themselves. I will be honest if my opinion is sought; but I am cautious about offering complaints that may not be welcome.

      • joe says:

        And just when I thought I could get out, they draw me back in!

        [Extra points for those who identify that line as being from The Sopranos instead of from The Godfather! 😉 ]

        By way of returning your compliment, I just wanted to let you know, Frea. I’ve been tremendously busy lately, and really needed to get away from the PC, so I’ve fallen behind. Sorry to say, I’m not yet caught up with Fates. But this weekend, especially after hearing the first two parts of the interview, I really had to get back to it. Had to.

        Your writing is just a pleasure. Much like my guitar, I can put it down, but life feels so much more sane when I pick it up and play a song. It feels more sane when I read another chapter in Fates. Today I read three.

        Now stop with the facepalms (how do you conjugate that verb, btw?) and enjoy S4! I am so looking forward to next Monday.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well let me be then next to add to this ponderous love-fest of a thread.

        First Frea, thanks. And I have a full beard which has on occasion been trimmed to a goatee, which obviously makes me the AU Dave. 😉 But before I forget;

        Looking forward to your post, Ernie! Want to borrow my graphic with the red no-smoking sign over Prague? 🙂

        I’m feeling a bit like Chuck being told to learn how to tango… Is this some sort of FF initiation? I’m new to this, so be gentle. Heck, I don’t even know why Carina’s last name is actually Hansen. But I have picked up on what slash is (slight shudder).

        So on the less scary part of fanfic, I’m sort of with Dave in that I don’t really review things I don’t like, but I also don’t really review. The problem is in an area where I’m not feeling “entitled” because I didn’t buy the DVD or the footlong subs I feel like I shouldn’t criticize unless I can genuinely tell the person how to do a better job. Since most of my reviews would then degenerate into a version of the Chris Farley Show (Hey remember that part in Double Agent where Chuck and Sarah kissed while she was escaping? …That was cool) I tend to not say anything much about Fanfic at all. But that won’t stop me from speaking in general terms now. There is a lot of good stuff and a lot of middle of the road, and a lot of bad stuff, and unfortunately sometimes you start to read the less than good stuff before you figure it out. Even some of the good authors go hot and cold or veer off into odd tangents. But reading all the good, bad, and indifferent stuff has taught me a thing or two. A lot of these writers, usually the bad ones, do feel entitled and are essentially venting. A few seem to have serious issues with either Chuck or Sarah at various points, and a lot of unresolved rage. I guess it’s better that they write fanfic than the alternitives.

        And to all of you, frankly this post I’m working on is kicking my butt because you guys won’t quit with the great commentary and discussion! The conversation here has moved it in different directions and expanded the scope a bit. It may end up being nearly as long as a chapter of Fates but probably not nearly as much fun, or worth the wait.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        P.S. That was a joke. You didn’t really all have to stop commenting while I attempt to finish my post.



      • atcdave says:

        For starters Ernie, I have a full beard too; so does that mean we are both the evil Dave/Ernie?

        Funny about the anger/entitlement issues. There are several writers, one very prolific author, who like a VERY angry/empowered Chuck. Its almost funny at times like; gee, what’s going to happen in this story to really PO Chuck and turn him into a super agent. The author I’m thinking of is actually a good writer, but with only a few exceptions I don’t normally like his view of the Chuckiverse.
        I’m thinking I need to do another ff post in the next couple days where I will talk more at lengthy about what I think makes good fan fiction. I know ff is sort of a tangent for this site, but its a tangent that I enjoy a lot.

      • Frea O says:

        Well, dang, Dave and Ernie, is one of you at least left handed? I mean, it’s not necessarily an evil universe, but it could be a mirror universe we’re dealing with here… 🙂

        Oh, right, the entitled fanfic writers. I…am a little scared of them, to be honest. Including the author you mentioned, Dave, if it’s the same one I’m thinking of (I hope he keeps that sort of anti-woman policy limited to fanfiction). I don’t view him as a terribly great author; he has good ideas at the onset, but over time, his stories evolve into the same thing over and over again. I call this group the macho Chuck writers and there are quite a few of them…between them and the Sarah-haters (Seriously, I saw a review once that was like, “Sarah needs to be punished!” and I was like, “Bwuh?”), and yes, the entitlement and the “we should have THIS type of show!” runs rampant throughout their stories. It’s much worse than wish fulfillment fan fiction and it always makes me feel a little dirty reading it like they’re trying to make me pick sides against the show. I don’t like the “For or against” mentality present there. Can’t I just like what I like about the show (Zac Levi) and dislike what I don’t (Shaw arc)?

        And Ernie, I totally understand about the review thing. I don’t actually review a lot, which is irresponsible and lazy on my part (but I counter it by never asking for reviews for myself because if I can’t give others the same courtesy, why do I deserve it?). It takes a lot to move me to review, and I rarely ever leave constructive criticism because I never know if the author is actually looking for it. Then there’s the issue that I don’t feel I really have a right to leave constructive criticism due to lack of credentials, etc etc.

        If you’re ever really nervous about leaving reviews (not saying you are, this is just me throwing this out there to anybody first getting into the idea of reading fanfiction), a good tip might be to pick something in the chapter that you liked and tell the author that. People don’t get better without hearing what works and what doesn’t, and taking a few seconds to say, “Hey, I did really enjoy the part where Chuck and Sarah made out while she was supposed to be escaping. That be hot, yo!” And it would be awesome if I practiced what I preach. 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Frea I think we are thinking of the same writer. I think you put that well, he has interesting ideas at the start, but they all play out along the same outline. Sometimes in frighteningly torturous fashion. I don’t mind a more capable Chuck (although I still think the Intersect 2.0 was actually too much); but I don’t care for the stories that torture or punish the main characters. As you said, there are some who clearly don’t like Sarah. Of course that’s their right, but except for certain parts of S3 I adore her character; I want to read about tough heroic Sarah, who maybe has a few emotional issues…

        I guess I enjoy fan fiction because I love the show, setting, and characters. There was a period when I thought they were making some big mistakes on the show (like most of S3!), and I got extra enjoyment from fan fictions that didn’t repeat what I didn’t like. But for now I’m as happy with canon as I am with any AU (or close anyway!).

  2. BdaddyDL says:

    I remember on Jag, the only show that ever came close to Chuck for me, how secretive they were. Much more as I recall even in Chuck. And when Mac and Harm finally got together I didnt care.

    With Chuck I may care to much. And then you got me involved in fan fiction..

    I degress, I thing TPTB are walking a heck of a tightrope, and with the exception of a few episodes they have done well.

    I read the synopsis for 4.02 and I am hopeful. I will continue to fight for Chuck, and the fact that the cast sends pics act makes it so much easier.

    The problem I have in respondidng to Joes posts is that I agree with him so much.

    Thanks for another great post

    • joe says:

      Agree with me, will ya! We’ll have none of that around here! 😉

      I have to ask, BDaddy, Do you mean JAG (the acronym for Judge Advocate General), the show from about 10 years back? I never saw it, but I did hear good things. Isn’t it some sort of pre-cursor to NCIS?

    • atcdave says:

      JAG is a great example of how to draw the primary relationship way past the breaking point. I think I stopped caring 3 seasons or more before they got together. And since they followed the “old school” model of TV relationships where the featured couple finally gets together at the end of the last episode, they robbed their audience of any sense of satisfaction with the outcome. The show was often fun for other reasons, but the central relationship was simply awful writing.

      Joe, NCIS is actually a spin-off of JAG. It started as a two part episode of JAG, and they did at least two other cast crossovers I can think of in the first season. Its one of those rare cases where the spin-off is far superior to the original (and NCIS:LA would be a more typical example…). I did see the original NCIS pilot re-edited as a one-hour episode of NCIS as well, so I’m sure trivia junkies love the two completely different edits of the same show.

  3. atcdave says:

    Some great points about involvement and burn out Joe. At one point I was watching an episode or two of Chuck every day. Comic-Con 2009 broke me of it; I heard the Schwedak comments and said “blech”. No more compulsive viewing. Kind of sad in a way, it was an abrupt break for me.
    Obviously, with this site and reading fan fiction, I’m just as involved time-wise as ever. I think our involvement here, and many fans on other sites too, actually did make a difference. That is satisfying, but it was also too late to save most of S3. I expect it to actually have more impact on other shows than we actually did for Chuck; that is, I think we affected the way show runners view theirs fans. And maybe even affected the orthodox view of what fans want to see (especially in the wt/wt department).

    I am somewhat burned out on the genre now. I loved Burn Notice from the first. I’ve been enthusiastic about White Collar (OK, slightly different genre); and like Covert Affairs (not as much as the others). Will I watch another spy themed show? I don’t know. At one point I was excited about Undercovers. I’ll probably still tune in, but I’m not really looking for more new shows of any sort just now. And Chuck is coming back, and NFL football just started. My plate may be full. We’ll see.

    • joe says:

      Dave, only because it was getting long and wordy, I edited out a section of the post that listed exactly those shows you mentioned here. My point and even the wording was spooky-similar to yours!

      You mind-melding me again? Stop that!!! 😉

      I hadn’t thought about how the fan reactions to Chuck might impact other shows, but it seems obvious when you say it. This kind of involvement will be their goal for the foreseeable future.

    • jason says:

      I too will probably pass on the new spy genre stuff, I think like most concepts in the world, way too much ‘me too’ going on, there are so many new spy shows, I can’t tell them apart (include in there fringe, human target, burn notice, warehouse 13, eureka, castle, then all the new ones- geez), I can always catch up on the best one or two after a couple of seasons if I chose to – LOL

      jag was a classic wt/wt – I thought the guy star (harm) was almost embarrassingly cold to the catherine bell character (for all ten seasons), whenever she had a b/f – I rooted for the new couple, harm really did not deserve her

      chuck was just written differently, chuck crushed on sarah immediately, and in an odd way sarah fell for chuck immediately, not in a crushy way, in a ‘real’ way, ok, I will open up the can of worms, but much of the first 3 seasons was about chuck catching up in the ‘real’ love department vs the crush, and sarah actually learning to crush on chuck (the tangible love was always there for sarah).

      • joe says:

        Heh! That’s a great way of putting it, Jason. I have to come back to the “It *is* real, Chuck.” line. We all knew that Sarah was talking about more than Chuck getting the Intersect out of his head. We all know that it was even more than just about Chuck having a “real” life again.

        It was about her, of course.

      • atcdave says:

        Some excellent points Jason. I agree strongly that the Chuck/Sarah thing felt different from most shows right at the start. JAG certainly never had as much chemistry. Castle may come close, but Rick lacks the “everyman” feel; it seems strange and not as satisfying rooting for the millionair playboy to get the girl.

      • jason says:

        thx joe and dave, if you think about it, chuck fell for sarah, much like beckett for castle, because sarah (rick) is hot, fun & exciting – but sarah, she fell for chuck because he was nice (tall, dark, and sweet to use Roan’s words) – pretty unique place to start from – although in lots of ways, by season 3’s end, chuck is pretty exciting, and sarah appears to be signed up for the whole package so to speak, which is great news from my perspective … the greatness of CS is sarah brought out the ‘bond’ in chuck, while chuck brought out the june cleaver in sarah – which is what they both wanted for themselves in the first place (chuck wanting to be bond, sarah wanting a real life in the suburbs – LOL – lots of luck maybe more than laugh out loud)

  4. Bernardo says:

    Great rant Joe! You put a maniac energy there, but in a good way!

  5. ChuckNewbie8 says:

    A nice revisiting of the fan perspective Joe. There are those that will call us primadonnas, those that question our fandom but in the end it’s not so much about us as it is the show. The show that hooked us, and continues to do so.

    Chuck may not always win in the ratings tally, but it’ll always win out in our hearts. (Too cheesy? lol).

  6. aardvark7734 says:

    Nothing in the last 10 years grabbed hold of me like the first season of Chuck and I don’t expect anything to do so again anytime soon. Certainly not after having watched the summer crop of shows.

    If anything they demonstrate how you can do almost everything right with a high degree of proficiency and still not be as compelling (Covert Affairs, for instance).

    I’ve seen nothing coming in the broadcast pilots that could hope to dethrone our favorite show.

    • Gord says:

      Agreed. There are a few shows I intend to check out. I have to watch the premiere of Hawaii Five o, because I was around for the premiere of the first series (Yep I’m old) and it will be sort of a nostalgia thing.

      I have to admit there are a few police procedurals I enjoy, but nothing to the same extent as Chuck.

      • joe says:

        I’m sort of curious about the Hawaii Five-O show myself, Gord!

        Heh – After all these years, I still love that old theme song. I very nearly have a CDs worth of theme songs ready to be burned, and I need to add that one! Of course, Short Skirt, Long Jacket is already in my collection, but just today the Mrs. got me a copy of the theme they use for Covert Affairs. It’s called Can You Save Me by Apple Tree and Tangerines. I like it. I’m afraid to ask her if it’s a legit copy or if the FCC is gonna be coming after me now!

  7. Gord says:

    I watched the premiere of Nikita, its OK, but it is nothing to right home about. The only way I could see myself watching it is if there is nothing better to do.

    As for undercovers, I will give it a try, but to me the best spy shows out there right now are Chuck and Burn Notice (although I haven’t seen that one past S2 – finally on TV up here in Canada).

    From the set pictures, the spoilers and cast interviews, I’m thinking this season of Chuck is going to be the best ever. Let’s hope that it really finds its place among new viewers this season.

  8. hiswings says:

    Joe, can I just say ditto to your whole post? I have never been as invested in a tv program as I have been with Chuck. So much as to be called a tv-aholic by my family and friends. I had a twitter handle – but have just recently connected with the twitter goings on – just so I can keep abreast of all things “Chuck.” Have never wanted to visit California – but SDCC has me very piqued. And after all of that – I will have to admit that I almost remember the pilot of H5O – yeah I will admit that I am “as old as dirt” too.

    Chuck’s cast and crew and all of the writers and showrunners have found a sweet spot in the hearts of their fans and that is why we are all so invested in this “participation.”

    Yes, I can actually say that I have watched hours of chuck obsessive/compulsively over the summer and am on pins and needles until 9/20. Crazy stalker fan crazy is probably a very apt description of what I have become and yeah I actually think I’m proud to say it.

    I guess it’s just me waiting for the white coats to come get me so I can watch Chuck with Merlin this year!!

    Thanks again for letting me share!! I love you guys for this blog!!

    • joe says:

      Awwww – Thanks, HisWings. Lemme tell you my story (and my apologies to the “old timers” who are familiar!) I went on an exercise binge starting about two years ago to lose weight, and it all began with an iPOD and walking. I knew that the music I was hearing on Chuck was great, but finding it and getting it on my play-lists became an objective! Thanks to those tunes, the walks became a different experience – I was revisiting all those scenes and doing a lot of contemplation about the characters.

      Lost the weight, too. It’s not the same as getting an Intersect, but transformation is an interesting phenomenon, no matter how little. You start to relate a bit differently to people around you, and that’s what I was seeing in the story.

      Oh, now I run, when I can, for about an hour at a time. Mostly I keep going just to hear the next song. 😉 If that’s obsession, I can live with that!

  9. mxpw says:

    I just wanted to say, as the author of the aforementioned Sarah making out with Chuck while she was escaping scene, that was totally practical! You see, she used it as a distraction technique so that she could get past Chuck without having to hurt him and it wasn’t like she planned it or anything and it wouldn’t have made a difference in her chances and yeah…

    Heh, I’m pleased that it seems quite a few of you enjoyed it.

    I don’t really have anything to add to this conversation. I’ve been involved in the online fanfic community in some form or another for more than 10 years. I know fanfic pretty well. I’ve been with the Chuck fanfiction archive since almost the beginning. Seriously, my first Chuck fanfic is one of the first 25 Chuck fics ever written and archived at I’m not really sure why I’m saying this, other than to obviously brag, but I guess my point is that if you want to see how fanfiction is done right, just follow the “career” of Frea O’Scanlin. I’ve been around the block a few times, so I like to think I know what I’m talking about, and she is one of the best I’ve ever seen (not just writing, but the whole fanfic writing experience). Honestly, for any new writer thinking of getting into the fandom, look at how Frea handles things and you’ll be okay.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      This is what happens when threads get ponderous, even if it is because of a love-fest. 😉 Thanks for stopping by, and by the way, I mean it, I did like that scene. I thought it worked that Sarah as just unbalanced enough by recent events to go a bit crazy. In fact since I’m conflicted about reviewing I’ll just say that I’ve enjoyed everything of yours I’ve read, and am looking forward to Bank Job when I go on vacation. Yes, I’m actually saving fanfic for my vacation when I can read uninterrupted the way I do novels. That’s how good some of it is. Final point I’ll add, while I haven’t worked my way through all the CI bloggers stuff there isn’t an author there whose work I don’t enjoy.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I forgot to add I also thought the kiss was a great callbacl to Hard Salami where Sarah realized how compromised she was.

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